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Our 2022 Photographer of the Year Alex Brackx and his wife Karen enjoying a mokoro outing in Khwai Private Reserve, Botswana

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??? Where to safari now + understanding snakes + Pongola’s elephant crisis

Just back from hosting our 2022 Photographer of the Year winners in Khwai Private Reserve, Botswana. We relished epic wildlife encounters, enjoyed superb hospitality from our hosts, and forged life-long friendships. I have never laughed so much while on safari as I did with this crew. Thanks to you all. Expect my report back in the coming months. But there is also a contemplative side to this note.

After 6 action-packed days with the winners, Lizz and I headed off for 4 days of bliss in Selinda and were again blown away by the experience. This got me thinking …

About the role that brave safari lodge pioneers like Colin Bell of Natural Selection (our hosts in Khwai) and Dereck & Beverly Joubert of Great Plains (our hosts in Selinda) play when they invest patient, long-term capital into these wilderness areas to generate sustainable, responsible revenue streams for local communities and stable ecosystems for wildlife. Often these landscapes have been abused by former occupants, and it takes years for the wildlife to recover and gain confidence in a human presence. The costs are significant and, let’s face it, tourism does not generate the steady cash flow that investors in mines, banks and technology companies enjoy. They are, of course, supported by a host of people – including their families, colleagues and investors – but what makes these eco-warriors so special is their grit and determination to make a difference. These businesses survive pandemics, presidents and the trials and tribulations of operating in remote, wild areas. There are others, like Beks Ndlovu of African Bush Camps, all of whom play this essential trail-blazing role. Many lodge owners survive the storms without access to large pools of capital – I bow my head to you all.

What can you do to support these safari pioneers? I think you know the answer – my team is standing by for your enquiry.

Keep the passion

Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic

From our Editor – Taryn van Jaarsveld

This week we’re celebrating the most remarkable of creatures: snakes. Whether you squirm at the thought of encountering snakes or harbour a deep respect for these marvels of natural engineering, you’ll find an appreciation for serpents when delving into our exploration of these complex predators in our first story.

When is the best safari season in Africa? The vast African continent straddles the equator and six time zones – meaning profoundly differing vegetation, climates and topography. This also means that there is always a good safari season in Africa. We’ve put together a go-to guide for your safari in September, October and November. Check it out in our third story below.

Some time ago, we published an op-ed by Malcolm Thomson on Pongola Game Reserve’s elephant management crisis. Conservationists Pete Ruinard and Paul Cryer have penned a thought-provoking response to this op-ed, unpacking some of the issues at play. Our second story is well worth the read for those seeking to understand the complexities of elephant-population management.

Happy celebrating Africa!

From our Scientific Editor – Jamie Paterson

Fads are a human thing, right? We’ve seen ineffective diets, horrendous fashions, and stupid social media challenges all come and go.

But did you know that orcas seem to follow fads? Recently, pods of orcas have taken to breaking the rudders off boats around the European coast, and no one is quite sure why. They aren’t hurting anyone, just engaging in some minor property damage.

Is that a fad? Well, maybe, maybe not, but it’s not the first time orcas have been observed copying each other. In the summer of 1987, one female took to wearing a dead salmon as a hat. In the blink of an eye, the rest of her pod followed, and soon, several other pods did as well. Then salmon went out of fashion, and they all stopped…The orca equivalent of the tide-pod challenge?

Story 1
Admired and feared, snakes are marvels of natural engineering, behaviour & movement. Here’s everything you need to know to understand snakes

Story 2
Pongola Game Reserve faces an elephant management crisis. Paul Cryer & Pete Ruinard provide a different perspective on the challenges at hand

Story 3
When is the best safari season in Africa? Find the best places to go on safari in Africa from September to November


OK, so the prime safari season is in full swing. You may have missed out this year but still long for a little bush time during the coming festive season. We’re here to help!

Planning a festive season safari takes more experience and precision than the sure-thing prime safari season of June to August – because of the arrival of summer rains and what this means for wildlife movement. So what to do, where to go?

We recommend the following:

  1. Take advantage of lower ‘green / secret’ season rates that some lodges offer ⛺
  2. Focus on seasonal natural events at this time of year – like the migration of bats in Kasanka (Zambia), zebras in the salt pans of Botswana and wildebeest in Serengeti (Tanzania) ?
  3. Bulk up on your bird list by ticking off the numerous avian summer migrants ?
  4. End your bushveld safari with a spot of beach time. Did someone say strawberry daiquiris? ?
  5. Join our scientific editor and safari guide Jamie Paterson as she searches for predators in the Sabi Sands (Greater Kruger, South Africa) early in the new year. Limited availability. ?

teamAG is on standby for your questions and to bring your festive season wishlist to life 🙂

Snapping away in Botswana

The winners of Photographer of the Year 2022 have just returned from their safari in Khwai Private Reserve, Botswana, where they stayed at Natural Selection’s Little Sable and Hyena Pan camps, and Skybeds. Runner Up Geo Cloete joined the trip, and writes:

“A HUGE thank you to the sponsors! It sure was a trip that dreams are made of. With so many new lifetime memories created, it will take a good amount of time to process them all and file them in the ‘it really happened’ folder.
An equally big thank you to Africa Geographic! The professionalism and passion with which Simon and his team ensure their clients enjoy the best of the best is truly admirable!

I celebrate all the beauty of the last seven days and will treasure it for the rest of my life. The gourmet meals, the beautiful people who became friends and undoubtedly the stars of the trip, and the African wildlife. May we continue to strive to secure a bright future for them all for generations to come.”

WATCH: Watch a rare and tense encounter between an elusive brown hyena and two spotted hyenas at a waterhole in Madikwe Game Reserve, captured by Jamala Madikwe (02:02). Click here to watch

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